For National Volunteer Month, we appreciate all of our volunteers for their commitment to making Indianapolis a welcoming city for refugees. We would like to highlight Jess McGuire who has been volunteering with Exodus since 2015. Jess sorts and organizes donated items in our donation warehouse at Exodus.
Working in the donation warehouse is not an easy job. Jess always goes above and beyond when she volunteers. The donation area is clean and organized because of the great job that she does for us. She is happy to help with any task and is really creative in her approach. She’s like another team member and makes my job as Housing Manager much easier.”
– Ali Haddad, Housing Manager
Like many people I was appalled and saddened when, in the fall of 2015, refugees came under attack. And like many people I felt like I wanted to do something to help. I started, with the help of my husband, by collecting household items to set up an apartment for a new family coming in. After doing that, I felt like there was still more I could contribute, so I asked about ways to become a more permanent volunteer. In Jan of 2016 I started volunteering in the donation warehouse. For me, volunteering just a little bit of my time seemed like a way I could contribute, and maybe counter the negativity that refugees were facing with a little bit of positive energy.
I’m one of those people who loves to organize and sort things so volunteering in the warehouse seemed like a perfect fit. It certainly isn’t the most glamorous of volunteer opportunities but I do feel like I’m contributing and helping the employees of Exodus do their jobs more efficiently and easily. Because I also organize the clothing room, I always want to make the process of “shopping” for clothing as easy as possible for the clients. I imagine a lot of the experience, particularly for new refugees, is pretty overwhelming, and so I try to make that area as easy to navigate and as least overwhelming as possible for them.
I really do like to believe that welcoming refugees, or anyone seeking a safer or better life, is part of our American story, part of what creates this idea of American greatness. We are a country of so many resources and strengths, and part of that is due to those who used to call some other place home, but who have come here to contribute. And sometimes those who come could use a little help. They are coming from places where they did not have the same resources and strengths, but we are more than capable of providing that help. When suddenly people were less willing to provide that help, I felt like those of us who were able and willing, needed to step up.
There are so many opportunities to contribute to the mission of Exodus, and such a variety of ways to volunteer, you can certainly find some way to use your talents. Some of those may be working directly with refugees, but some opportunities, like mine, may be something more “behind the scenes” but still so helpful. My experience at Exodus has been so rewarding and I’ve enjoyed it so much, I would definitely urge anyone considering volunteering their time, to reach out and pursue an opportunity here.